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Nick's Picks: Predictions for week 16 of ASU men's basketball

Data reporter Nick Hedges predicts how ASU will fare this week against Stanford and California


ASU players take the field before the Sun Devils 49-7 blowout win over the UTSA Roadrunners at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. Photo illustration published on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.   

Week 7 of Pac-12 basketball left the ASU men's basketball team's tournament hopes in serious doubt after another inconsistent showing. The Sun Devils opened their mountain road trip with a surprising loss to Colorado before beating Utah (which finally put Nick’s basketball picks in the win column).

ASU sorely needed its first road sweep under head coach Bobby Hurley, but after the split against the mountain schools, the team needs to win and win convincingly the rest of the way to make a case to the tournament selection committee.

But the question still remains: As ASU returns for its final home games of the season, will it finally be able to string together a solid multi-game performance? Here’s what I think:

Stanford at ASU (Wednesday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m. MST)

ASU’s first game against the Cardinal didn’t quite go according to plan. In a game they were widely expected to win, the Sun Devils lost by 14 points. 

The composite index gives ASU just over a 55 percent chance to win, but Stanford looks to be the more likely victor coming in. The Cardinal have won five of their last six games and come into Tempe just having hung 104 points on UCLA. 

However, it’s been a while since Stanford came up against a team with the kind of athleticism that ASU possesses. Zylan Cheatham and Remy Martin have made ASU very hard to beat when they’re both at their best, and with their tournament hopes hanging by a thread, I expect both to come up with big performances. 

Stanford will give ASU a close game, but the Sun Devils will avenge its earlier loss to the Cardinal.

ASU: 55.04 percent chance to win

Stanford: 44.96 percent chance to win

Prediction: ASU 81, Stanford 75

California at ASU (Sunday, Feb. 24, 4 p.m. MST)

No matter what happens on Wednesday night, ASU is going to have a great chance to pick up a convincing win Sunday afternoon. Cal has still yet to win a game in-conference and have only really come close in one or two of them. 

The Golden Bears are firmly stuck in the cellar of the Pac-12 and rank consistently near the bottom in just about every statistic. The most telling of those is the team's opponent shooting percentage. Opposing teams shoot just over 50 percent against Cal on average. That’s good for 352nd in the nation, better only than Incarnate Word. 

I expect this lackluster defense to allow ASU’s Rob Edwards and Kimani Lawrence to rain down from deep all night. Cal has been so bad that ASU could have an off-night and win by double digits.

ASU: 68.58 percent chance to win

California: 31.42 percent chance to win

Prediction: ASU 89, California 70

Now, let’s see where each team in the Pac-12 sits in the composite index:

The composite index is formed by combining our own “Power Index” with other rankings and ratings. Read below to see specifics about how the composite index is formed.

The primary component of the composite index is a custom "power index" which combines various player/team unit rankings and scores to create one number that tells how good a team is overall. 

However, because the custom index does not account for in-season changes, ESPN's BPI, Sagarin rankings and national composite scores are factored in as well.

After each of these scores are found for each team, the median and average of those scores for each team is calculated. The median and averages for each team are then averaged together to find the composite index score.

To predict games, the composite index scores for each team in the game are added together, adding 10 points for the home team. After that, the composite index score for each team is divided by that total to find win probability.

Reach the reporter at and follow @nicktrimshedges on Twitter.

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